Quality Communities Built on Collaboration

Anthony Shephard-Williams (Director and head of online communities at Mustard) and Paul Kingsley-Smith (UK Director at Qualzy) have joined forces to highlight the benefits of combining ‘research’ and ‘tech’ minds in delivering the highest quality and most engaging communities.

A bit about our community credentials

Mustard: As a research agency, we have been designing, building and managing online communities for our clients since 2010 and have partnered with Qualzy for the past 7 years; delivering hundreds of successful communities (ranging in duration from 3 days to the very popular one or two-week pop-up communities, to 4 years and counting for our longer-term, ongoing communities). We love to design engaging, interactive and fun communities and have years of community projects and experiences to bring to the table.

Qualzy: With over 20 years of experience and the latest artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology, we offer a wide range of research solutions to our clients, including a self-service suits and ‘Launch Assist’, a customised design, build and launch service provided by our team of project implementation experts. Mustard has used Qualzy in a blended-use approach for the past seven years, supporting us as we push the product to new heights.

How do we work together?

To put it simply, Mustard design the research and Qualzy design the platforms in which the research is delivered.

From Mustard’s experience, some of the relationships between agencies and community platform providers can be very one sided and often the research agency is at the mercy of the platform provider in terms of having any input on functionality and features.

However, the relationship between Mustard and Qualzy is different; over the duration of our working relationship, we’ve formed a really strong partnership and we believe this ‘coming together’ has resulted in the perfect blend of research and tech working in harmony.

The top benefits of a research agency and a tech company working closely together:

From Mustard’s point of view, here are the main benefits of blending ‘research’ and ‘tech’ minds in working together:

  • Nothing is ever “off the table” from a developmental perspective – since we first worked with Qualzy we have been able to make suggestions to improve the community research tools and features available to us. We know what we need from a research design stance and Qualzy know how to make it work from the tech side. This means that together we are continuously striving to improve the experience for all involved and finding new and innovative ways of eliciting deeper insights from our respondents.


  • The flexibility to create communities on our own (self-serve style) or lean on the launch assist team at Qualzy – we work on certain projects whereby Mustard will take the lead on the community set-up (for example, scripting discussion guides or setting up activities) and others where we need to lean on Qualzy (for example, when the set-up might be particularly complex in terms of scripting or designing an impactful longer-term community homepage). Whichever way we do this, we know that we can always rely on the team at Qualzy to provide support and answer any questions we may have. Mustard can do as much of the set-up as we want under the careful watch of Qualzy or we can hand it over fully to them.


  • The ‘tech’ minds of Qualzy can rein in a researcher’s creative side to make things fit for purpose – researchers like to get creative with the techniques we use in communities and sometimes even the most experienced researcher can get a little carried away! Despite our experience and creative instincts, inevitably not all of our initial ideas are feasible or practical. Qualzy will let us know if a new technique or way of asking questions will be problematic, and will suggest work arounds to make them happen.

And here’s a few reasons from Qualzy’s perspective:

  • Giving our insights insight! – as a team, we are always eager to develop the tools in Qualzy’s platform, and clients like Mustard are always on the cutting edge of research. Their work allows us to see what researchers and their clients want from a research platform, so we can develop accordingly. We consider all client requests for changes to the platform thoroughly and often combine them into new tools.


  • Knowing me, knowing you – a good working relationship between a platform and a research team means that each side has a good idea of what the other needs from each project setup, giving us a smooth, reliable launch. Mustard’s projects are a “gold standard” benchmark to new Qualzy team members who need the challenge of building a full project, whilst knowing the written guide is designed in a way that will work with the platform.


  • Testing, testing 1, 2, 3 – as a result of clients like Mustard who frequently utilise the Qualzy platform in new ways, we are able to “road test” features, developments and updates and receive direct, honest feedback to ensure that Qualzy offers the best user experience possible.

If you want to talk about online communities, please contact  Anthony.shephard-williams@mustard-research.com or call 0161 235 5270.